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Poor customer service: Airlines now on receiving end

Kenneth Ehigiator

The U.S. government may have charted a road map for Nigeria in punishing airline’s shabby treatment of and poor service to passengers, as no fewer than three American carriers had been fined sums in excess of $175,000 for getting their customers stranded at airports.

The fine, it was learnt, is exclusive of whatever additional cost such airlines would have incurred to make the passengers comfortable for the period the delay lasted, as spelt out by international aviation rules.

The Department of Transportation (DoT) in the United States had penalised the airlines for disallowing passengers exit of the planes into airport terminal buildings for security reasons and bad weather.
For most air travellers in the country, this pace-setting measure couldn’t have come at a better time than now.

In the past few weeks, passengers have faced one form of poor service or another flying some domestic carriers in the country, in the face of the inability of the consumer protections unit of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to stamp its authority on erring airlines.

The media was awash some three weeks ago about how some prominent Nigerians were delayed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for hours without any explanation.

The dust raised by this was yet to settle when some passengers were allegedly asked to evacuate the plane at MMA2 because the airline involved could not fill its plane, and opted to fly another route where there were more passengers.  Passengers threatened hell and brimstone but, unfortunately, the matter had since simmered as nothing was ever heard of the incident again.

The inability of Nigerian carriers to offer seamless and comfortable flight operations was further exposed recently as an airline served staled snacks on board.

Although these incidents were all widely reported, nothing concrete appears to have happened in terms of sanctions for the airlines involved.

The NCAA’s consumer protection unit had often accused passengers of not reporting incidents of maltreatment, poor on-board service, flight delays and cancellations, but what about those that had been widely reported.
Report says the U.S. government’s action was the first ever such fines imposed on any American airline for getting passengers stranded.

Experts contend that the erring airlines, Continental Airlines and its ExpressJet Airlines affiliate, which were fined $100,000, and Mesaba Airlines, a unit of Delta Air Lines, which was fined $75,000 by the DoT may never get in the way of passengers’ convenience anymore, and wants the Nigerian government to adopt a similar measure to
check the excesses of airlines in the country.

The erring airlines are said to have since paid the fines, as the enforcement agency needed to use the action to deter others from treating


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